Animal rights activists announced they will hold a rally outside the Greek embassy in Washington, DC on Thursday at noon (local time) to call for an end to Santorini’s donkey rides.
The group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) described the practice as “notoriously inhumane,” pointing to a damning eyewitness investigation by the group’s German chapter.
The protest is the third of several PETA demonstrations taking place this week at Greek embassies around the world, the group said in a press release.
The video footage revealed that donkeys and mules are used as “taxis” in blazing heat, forced to transport tourists up more than 500 steep steps to the old town of Fira, even though a cable car has been operating nearby for decades.
Many animals are left for hours with no access to water or shade, and keep carrying other loads well into the night, the group said.
“It’s a disgrace that gentle donkeys are being marched into the ground as they’re worked day in and day out with no relief from the hot sun,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is galvanizing Greek authorities to step up and stop this abuse.”
Apart from PETA, numerous animal rights activists have taken to social media repeatedly to protest the use of donkeys to carry obese tourists around Santorini's craggy and steep footpaths.
In October 2018, Greece’s Ministry of Agriculture introduced new rules to protect the donkeys, including a riding ban on tourists who weigh more than 100 kilograms (220 pounds), following a campaign by animal rights groups saying that burdening the donkeys with excessive loads is tantamount to torture.
The regulations, which do not apply only to the popular holiday island, also prohibit owners from using donkeys that are infirm, pregnant or badly shod, while also compelling them to ensure that their donkeys are well fed and watered.